Kariba Travel Guide

Plan your trip to Kariba with this comprehensive guide featuring the best places to visit, things to do, and where to stay.

Introduction to Kariba

Kariba is a beautiful town situated in the Lake Kariba-Lower Zambezi region of Zimbabwe, Southern Africa. The town was created in 1958 when the Kariba Dam was built across the Zambezi River, creating one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. The lake and surrounding area offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and relaxation.

List of Places to Visit in Kariba

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Kariba Museum: Explore the history of the town and the Kariba Dam through photos, artifacts, and exhibits.
  • Ancient Rock Art: Take a tour to see the ancient rock art sites dating back over 1000 years.
  • Nyaminyami Shrine: Visit the shrine of Nyaminyami, the river spirit who is said to protect the people of Kariba.

Natural Attractions of Kariba: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Lake Kariba: Take a boat ride or go fishing on the massive man-made lake.
  • Matusadona National Park: Spot elephants, lions, leopards, and other wildlife in the park.
  • Gache Gache Lodge: Go on a walking safari or canoe trip to see hippos and crocodiles in their natural habitat.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Kariba

  • Kariba Heights: Hike up to Kariba Heights for stunning views of Lake Kariba and the surrounding hills.
  • Baobab Hill: Trek up to Baobab Hill for panoramic views of the lake and Baobab trees.
  • Chirundu Fossil Forest: Bike through the Chirundu Fossil Forest to see 150 million-year-old fossils and ancient trees.

Best Things to Do in Kariba: Activities and Tours

  • Sunset Cruise: Take a sunset cruise on Lake Kariba to see the beautiful African sunset.
  • Fishing: Go on a fishing trip to catch some of the world’s largest tigerfish.
  • Safari: Book a safari tour to see wildlife in their natural habitat.
  • Birding: Kariba is home to over 350 bird species, so go bird watching at one of the birding hotspots.
  • Village Tour: Take a village tour to learn about the local customs and culture.

Week-Long Itinerary for Kariba

Day Activity
1 Explore Kariba Dam and the Kariba Museum
2 Go on a boat ride on Lake Kariba and see hippos and crocodiles
3 Take a fishing trip to try and catch the famous tiger fish
4 Go on a walking or canoe safari in Matusadona National Park
5 Spend the day bird watching at one of the birding hotspots
6 Take a village tour to learn about the local customs and culture
7 Chill out and relax at one of the beautiful resorts or lodges on the lake

Food and Drink Scene of Kariba

Must-Try Dishes

  • Sadza: A traditional Zimbabwean dish made from maize meal, usually served with meat or vegetables.
  • Kapenta: A small fish from Lake Kariba, often served dried or fried.
  • Mopani Worms: A unique delicacy of Zimbabwe, usually served fried or in a stew.

Local Beverages

  • Beer: Try the local Zambezi Lager or Castle Lager.
  • Tea: Zimbabwen teas are renowned for its flavor and are grown locally.
  • Mazoe Crush: A fruit cordial made from oranges, pineapples, and other fruits commonly found in Zimbabwe.

Where to Stay in Kariba: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

  • Bumi Hills Safari Lodge: A luxurious lodge located on a hill overlooking Lake Kariba.
  • Caribbea Bay Resort: A large resort with a private beach and a golf course.
  • Cutty Sark Hotel: A budget-friendly hotel with beautiful views of the lake.
  • Kariba Heights: Bed and Breakfast located in the hills with beautiful views of Lake Kariba.

What to Buy in Kariba: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Tribal Crafts: Take home traditional wooden crafts, baskets, and weavings made by local artisans.
  • Batiks: You can find beautiful batik pieces in Kariba made in the local style that makes for the perfect souvenir.
  • Elephant Hair Bracelets: Made with real elephant tail hair braided into a bracelet, these souvenirs are unique and highly treasured.

Local Culture and Customs of Kariba

The Tonga people are the primary cultural group in Kariba. They have beautiful music and dance and continue to maintain their traditional customs and values. The Tonga are also known for their basketry, weaving, sculpture, and pottery.

Best Time to Visit Kariba

The best time to visit Kariba is during the dry season from May to October. During this time, the weather is dry, and the wildlife is more concentrated around the water sources.

Do’s and Don’ts of Kariba


  • Be respectful of the local customs and traditions.
  • Wear light, breathable clothes as it can get hot during the day.
  • Carry insect repellent as there are mosquitoes in the area.


  • Overstay your visa or work without the proper permits.
  • Swim in the lake as it contains crocodiles and hippos.
  • Disturb wildlife or litter in the parks and reserves.

Safety and Health

Safety in Kariba

Kariba is generally safe, but you should always take precautions to ensure your safety. Avoid walking alone at night, keep your valuables safe, and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Health in Kariba

It is essential to take the necessary health precautions when visiting Kariba. It is recommended that you get vaccinated against malaria and yellow fever before your trip. Use mosquito nets and wear insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites.

Getting to Kariba: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Kariba

Kariba Airport is the closest airport to Kariba, with daily flights from Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital.

Bus Stations Near Kariba

Buses run every day from Harare to Kariba, with a few stops along the way.

Other Options

You can also drive to Kariba from Harare, which takes around 4-5 hours.

How to Get Around in Kariba

The best way to get around Kariba is by car or taxi. Car rental is available in the town itself or you can book a taxi through your hotel or lodge.

Where to Go Next from Kariba: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Victoria Falls: One of the world’s most famous natural wonders with incredible scenery, located about 8 hours away.
  • Mana Pools National Park: Located just south of Lake Kariba and is perfect for exploring the wildlife and great scenery.
  • Hwange National Park: Zimbabwe’s largest and oldest park is full of wildlife and is perfect for safaris.


Kariba is a must-visit destination in Southern Africa, with plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures, relaxation, cultural experiences, and more. Use this comprehensive guide to plan your trip and make the most of your time in Kariba.